Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Health And Welfare

Documentary to show how health workers suffer in toxic work environments


The pressure experienced in South Africa’s hospitals has had a detrimental impact on medical workers, resulting in an investigative medical documentary that will be released at the end of September 2020. The documentary will be giving insight into the harmful environment that health-care workers have had to endure during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The main aim of “Behind the Frontline” is to broaden people’s perception of the fragile health-care environment so that they can understand the country’s overall health-care system. “I have seen first-hand what effects of this toxic environment have on the mental health of health-care workers. After completing my mandatory three years of work, I wanted to share these experiences with the general public,” said Executive Producer of Behind the Frontline documentary, Adil Khan.

He said from the personal experiences and stories shared with him, the major forms of abuse were either racial or gender-based discrimination. Khan noted that these issues had been allowed to continue for far too long and the ultimate effects were seen by the public who engage with the health system. It was, therefore, collective responsibility to protect them.

On the other hand, The Head of the Junior Doctor Association of South Africa, Dr Theresa Mwesigwa, said there was a bit of a grey zone when it came to bullying, abuse and mistreatment.“Someone may be in a situation where they feel uncomfortable and they are met with the idea that they’ve all been through this, so one should just accept it and move on. Some of the reason that people don’t come forward is out of the fear of victimisation and because the medical profession is so hierarchical in nature,” said Mwesigwa.

She said the medical industry was still male-dominated and there were a lot of complaints about junior doctors or interns being mistreated, and victims and survivors of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Furthermore, Khan added that the documentary also aimed to expose the dysfunctional health workplace, ultimately leading to a dysfunctional health service.

“Having a toxic work culture could relate to burnout and mental health problems which could result in increased absenteeism, presenteeism (being at work but not fully functioning), increased medical errors, brain drain from the sector (leaving to go to the private sector or overseas, for example). This then may cause reduced quality of health care, increased waiting times and worse clinical outcomes of patients,” he said.

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